PREGNANT women should be encouraged to use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, new guidelines say.
The Royal College of Midwives warns the devices contain some toxins but at “far lower” levels than tobacco smoke.
Their new position statement adds there is no evidence to suggest vaping has any adverse effect on breastfeeding.
One in ten women in England are smokers at the time they give birth, rising to one in five in the worst areas.
Smoking significantly increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden infant death and birth abnormalities.
It also damages a mother’s health and is linked with maternal risks in pregnancy, such as placenta issues and eclampsia.
Babies born to mums who quit early in pregnancy have similar rates of stillbirth, premature birth and low birthweight as non-smokers.
Based on the available evidence on e-cigarette safety, there is no reason to believe that use of an e-cigarette has any adverse effect on breastfeeding.
The RCM statement, published today, says: “Quitting smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health through pregnancy and beyond.
“E-cigarettes contain some toxins, but at far lower levels than found in tobacco smoke.
“If a pregnant woman who has been smoking chooses to use an e-cigarette (vaping) and it helps her to quit smoking and stay smokefree, she should be supported to do so.
“If a woman has switched completely to vaping and is not smoking at all, she should be recorded as a non-smoker.
“Based on the available evidence on e-cigarette safety, there is no reason to believe that use of an e-cigarette has any adverse effect on breastfeeding.
We need to be doing all we can to support women and their families to stop smoking
“Vaping should continue if it is helpful to quitting smoking and staying smokefree.”
The union says schemes that offer women gift vouchers to quit smoking are effective and should be used more widely.
And they say specialist stop smoking support should be available for all pregnant women in all NHS Trusts.
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But a recent survey found seven in ten Heads of Midwifery do not have a stop smoking specialist midwife in their team.
Gill Walton, RCM chief executive, said: “We need to be doing all we can to support women and their families to stop smoking.”
The RCM calls for more research into the safety and effectiveness of vaping.
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